Ever witnessed a “crumb scraper” in action at in fancy restaurant? After some extensive research, I’ve found that they are also referred to as table crumbers. During a meal, a waiter will clean off the table in between courses so that you’re all set to enjoy your next course with a fresh, clean spot.
I’m intrigued by this tool and fantasize about one being invented for my brain.
There seem to be random crumbs swirling around up there at all hours of the day and night and they are a causing me irritation. I guess I consider the “meal courses” to be one of two things:
1) the different stages/phases that I go through in my creative life
2) the transition from activity to activity throughout an average right-brained day.
I am always in awe of people who can get down to business with the task at hand and immerse themselves in a voyage towards excellence. Rather than, say,
double checking Facebook,
planning that recipe from an obscure vegan cookbook,
emailing a long lost friend,
or figuring out once and for all, how to eliminate rust stains in my toilet…
…when I should be creating something beautiful and inspiring. Beautiful and inspiring are the goal, but there are days I will settle for neutral and mildly interesting.
What causes these crumbs to come loose from the tasks in my mental to-do list and cling to brain matter in such a random fashion? And how, on earth, do I scrape them off the place setting and get on with the next project? I have created a list (and of course while I was writing said list, my mind wandered to unfinished projects…mmmm.. twelve times).
- Walk away from the computer. Run, even…especially from status reports that have absolutely nothing to do with your life.
- Hide the unread books and eye-candy glossies
- Turn off the dad-gum ringer.
- Repeat Colossians 3:2 out lout more than once…even sing-song while dancing
- Visualize the finished product and where it will live
- Practice boldness and bravery in the beginning of every “meal course”
I do think (in the words of Woody Allen, pre-gross-out phase) 80% of success is just showing up. Being brave, allowing yourself to be uncomfortable, branching out, reaching out to people fearlessly, emailing the publisher, writing the proposal, making the art…it’s all a necessary part of taking steps to the massive bit of fabulous that was destined for your life. It’s a short jaunt of feeling insecure (and possibly nauseas) on the way to being proud, grateful and fulfilled.
As far as art-making or writing goes, I have found that The Muse needs to know where to find me. If I faithfully plop my tuckus down on the burlap sack chairs at my favorite coffee shop at the same time every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, she just might show up…maybe even with lipstick on…sassy red lipstick. Red smiling lips..and hands on her hips as if to say, “Boy, have I got a good one for you today.”
I spent many hours in such places craning my neck to see if she’s hidden in the crowd waiting for her nonfat latte or having trouble with the door in the loo. When she fails to show at all, I know that it was either that I wasn’t being consistent (translate: serious) about this work being created or I failed to slide my crumb comb in my purse. That darn thing! It’s so small and easy to lose. I think I need a rhinestone studded one with a chain and I’ll attach it to my keys.
I’ve made another discovery that the “super-magical-never-changing” place (as in the pre-mentioned specific coffee shop) is really not releasing clever fairy inspiration dust through the vents as I thought it was. It really has to do with my own state of mind. The other night I got an idea while I was brushing my teeth. Do you know how hard it is to scribble words on toilet paper while using your non-dominant hand with a vibrating jackhammer crammed into your gums?
Totally worth it though.
I sat in the dark (amber glow of the laundry room illuminating a post-it sized space on the table) and wrote for an hour while everyone was in bed. I have learned not to question God’s timing when it comes to these ideas that come barreling down into my heart like a European bullet train. They careen through my hands with force sometimes, with demanding toddler-esque voices, asking to be heard and recorded. Never mind that I’m supposed to be in a Mastermind meeting in five minutes or at the gym in my exercise class. I am asked to veer off course into a place that could yield more than any other planned creation time can. It’s not rushed..it feels natural…fun, even. Really fun when it pours out onto the page or canvas with gusto and I’m seeing where it can lead.
I read about a painter who got up at 4:00 am every day in the dark, rainy Northwest to venture out to create in her barn outside her house. When asked by the interviewer if it was difficult, she said, “That’s when the magic happens, folks.” I love that.
Sometimes it’s not your choice. You just have to go with it and pay special attention to the patterns presented to you. The only pattern I’ve seen in my own muse-chasing life is that inspiration always strikes when I’m busy with other scheduled activities, or I’m trying to go in a direction that feels forced (like writing when I really need to be taking pictures). Every single time I’ve heeded the call to change up the day to honor a creative hunch it has always paid off. Always. Why mess with a sure thing, right?
So..I skip down the avenue of Potentially Finished Products…crumb catcher swaying in time with the music…red lipstick on, of course,
and a plan